Cubs Offer Free Parking, Security in Swap for Fewer Limits on Night Games

By Ted Cox on December 4, 2013 1:32pm 

 Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says the refined night-game ordinance gives the Cubs "greater flexibility."
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) says the refined night-game ordinance gives the Cubs "greater flexibility."
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The Cubs would get "greater flexibility" in scheduling night games in exchange for free remote parking and additional police in a new ordinance that cleared a City Council committee Wednesday.

The proposal, which passed the License Committee and headed for a vote by the full Council next week, refined and clarified language in a previous ordinance approved in June. Previously, the Cubs had been allowed to expand the number of scheduled night games from 30 to 35 a season, with five more allowed if Major League Baseball demanded a change in start times and as many as six more if granted Council approval.

The new ordinance would retain 35 scheduled night games, but allow eight more to meet MLB demands, which will require only Council notification and not approval.

"It gives the Cubs greater flexibility," said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th).

In exchange, the Cubs will offer free remote parking for 1,000 cars, up from the current 500 spaces at $6 cost. And the ordinance allows for additional security around Wrigley Field, with 20 more cops after night games and perhaps 30 security officers. The cost of the security would be divided among the Cubs, the city and the community, although Tunney said that part of the plan was not finalized.

"I think this will be a real enhancement," Tunney added, referring to the "community benefit."

The free remote parking could help ease neighborhood congestion, Cubs spokesman Mike Lufrano suggested.

"We hope people will use it," Lufrano said. "By offering it for free, we hope people will park outside the community."

"I'm excited by the cost of this," Tunney said. "I think it will work."

Lufrano said he wasn't sure if the additional spots would be at the DeVry University Chicago Campus, 3300 N. Campbell Ave., where the Cubs now offer remote parking and shuttle bus service, but the parking  would be outside the immediate Wrigleyville community.

 Cubs spokesman Mike Lufrano said the organization was open to conversation with the community about a year-round sports plaza on the Clark Street side of Wrigley Field.
Cubs spokesman Mike Lufrano said the organization was open to conversation with the community about a year-round sports plaza on the Clark Street side of Wrigley Field.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

Tunney called on the Cubs to do "more aggressive marketing" in informing fans about the free parking.

Community concerns are holding up the Cubs' proposed sports plaza to be set up year-round on the Clark Street side of Wrigley Field. It was pulled from the committee agenda Wednesday.

"That has not been finalized yet," said Rose Kelley of the city's Law Department.

"Our community wants more input on it," Tunney said. "It's a brand-new type of license, so we've got a lot of work to do."

Tunney said that he wants the community to fully understand and support the year-round plaza before it's approved.

That was agreeable to the Cubs.

"We're gonna talk with the community. It's the right thing to do," said Lufrano.

The new ordinance also sets penalties for the four concerts a year allowed at Wrigley Field if they run past the 11 p.m. curfew, as the rain-delayed Pearl Jam show did this summer. The fines would be $5,000 for the first half-hour after 11, $15,000 for the next half hour and $30,000 for every 30 minutes after midnight.

"I believe our neighbors will still get a decent night's sleep," Tunney said.

The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.

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